Gerberry bill seeks to keep State of State in House chambers
By Marc Kovac
A state lawmaker unhappy with Gov. John Kasich’s decision to have this year’s State of the State in Steubenville will introduce legislation requiring the annual speech to be in the Ohio House chambers.
Rep. Ronald Gerberry, a Democrat from Austintown who has been at more than 20 State of the States during a legislative career that stretches back into the early 1980s, said he wants to preserve the tradition, not attack a political party.
“This has nothing to do with John Kasich,” Gerberry said. “ I just believe in the tradition that the governor comes to the House chamber. I don’t care if it’s a Republican; I don’t care if it’s a Democrat; I don’t care who it is. ... This is tradition.”
Gerberry was among lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle who voted against a resolution to have Tuesday’s joint session of the House and Senate in Steubenville.
Kasich will give his annual address to lawmakers at 1 p.m. at a public school in the eastern Ohio city.
There’s nothing in state law that requires the governor to offer the speech on Capitol Square, but Kasich will be the first governor in modern history — probably ever — to offer his comments away from the state capital.
During his time as a state lawmaker, Gerberry said he has missed only one State of the State, thanks to a snowstorm early in Gov. Bob Taft’s term.
He said he enjoys the tradition that comes with sitting in the House chamber and listening to the governor’s plans for the coming year.
Gerberry said the legislation he is drafting would require the speech to be presented in the chambers — whether in person by the governor or electronically from an off-site location.
“I think it’s a tradition that should live on,” he said. “What I fear is that this is going to become an annual dog and pony show. ... This is establishing a precedent that’s not a good one.”